Our 2010 passenger count is in: the total number of passengers going through the airport was down 2%, compared to the year before. Compared to the wild swings we’ve had the past few years, that doesn’t seem half bad.
Take a look at the graph. It plots our total passenger numbers, beginning in 2000. Each bar on the graph is numbered with its ranking. 2005 was our banner year, so it’s #1. 2002 was our worst year, so it’s #11:
Here’s the story the graph tells…
In 2000 we had 710,961 total passengers. Then came the havoc of 2001. In the aftermath of September 11th, we finished the year down 8%. It took the airline industry two years to show signs of recovery.
In 2004 passenger numbers finally went up in a meaningful way: up 11%.
In 2005 we shot up 23%. There were several reasons for this increase: 1) The airline industry had mostly recovered from the affects of September 11th. 2) When adjusted for inflation, fares were at historic lows. As a result, more people were flying. 3) Allegiant began flying from Springfield. Delta added service from Springfield to Atlanta. Northwest started service to Detroit and Minneapolis.
In 2006 we dropped 3%. In 2007 we came up 2% Then came the recession….
In 2008, as people cut spending, and many quit flying, we dropped 12%. That was the biggest one year drop in the airport’s history.
In 2009 we came roaring back with an 18% upswing, to finish the year up 4%. Talk about a roller coaster…
Now, were down 2%.
What does 2011 hold? More of the same…status quo.
We expect no significant growth in demand—mainly because the recession is not over, and unemployment continues to hover near 10%. Employment is a key driver in passenger demand: if more people have a job, more people will fly. If fewer people have a job, fewer people will fly.
Fuel is the great wild card. Last summer the spot price for a gallon of jet fuel was about $2.00. This week it’s $2.66.
We expect less than one percent growth in airline capacity nationwide. All bets are off, though, if fuel prices spike this summer. The airlines will respond by cutting the number of seats in the air and fewer people will fly, period.
SGF TOTAL PASSENGERS